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UNRWA absent from suffering of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

January 20, 2021 at 12:25 pm

A Palestinian boy looks over at Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon on 28 February 2017 [Ratib Al Safadi/Anadolu Agency]

Residents of Al-Jalil Palestine refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley suffer very difficult living conditions all times of the year, but their suffering doubles during winter due to a severe shortage of electricity and fuel needed to keep them warm.

COVID-19 also added to the plight of the refugees, who have already been suffering very difficult economic conditions. This refugee camp is the most miserable among the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon which hosts 8,250 refugees in an area of only 0.4 kilometres.

The refugee camp is plugged into electricity only six hours a day so that the refugees cannot use electric heaters to warm up during winter when the temperature is below zero. Fuel, which could be an alternative to electric heaters, is expensive for the unemployed refugees.

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Speaking to Quds Press, Secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Front, Waleed Issa said: “Most of the refugees are either builders or have seasonal jobs. They do not work in winter and have no income to afford their needs, mainly fuel, which is very expensive.”

He added: “COVID-19 increased the plight of the refugees this year… as five refugees have so far died out of more than 100 who caught the disease.”

Issa continued: “In the middle of this bitter reality, the UN refugee agency (UNRWA), which is responsible for the refugees, is absent. It does not offer any help to facilitate the life of the refugees.”

He called for UNRWA to declare the refugee camps and gatherings as disaster-stricken areas and to carry out measures that meet the needs of the refugees. He called on UNRWA to give the essential needs for their protection, quarantine and post-quarantine.